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Quote unquote: Winston Churchill on false optimism

“There is no worse mistake in public leadership than to hold out false hopes soon to be swept away. The British people can face peril or misfortune with fortitude and buoyancy, but they bitterly resent being deceived or finding that those responsible for their affairs are themselves dwelling in a fool’s paradise.”

– Winston Churchill, quoted in this review of Ripples of Battle by Victor Davis Hanson

4 comments to Quote unquote: Winston Churchill on false optimism

  • T. J. Madison

    Ah, I love quotes from the old war criminal. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

  • Del Simmons

    War Criminal? WTF?

  • George Peery

    Franklin Roosevelt, Churchill’s contemporary, once told Americans they had “nothing to fear but fear itself”. It’s hard to imagine a more vacuous or tautological utterance, yet this “insight” gave people hope at a time (the 1930s) when there seemed to be little reason for hope.

    FDR was engaged in political leadership, and his aphorism is (or was) known to every American school-child. Churchill himself was, on occasion, known to engage in similar rhetoric.

  • Richard Cook


    T.J. was most likely sitting on his head when he wrote that.